Kings and Nations

The Book of Revelation presents us with paradoxical images and visions that do not conform to our expectations about how God works. His purpose in subjugating His enemies and judging the nations differs radically from so-called “human wisdom.” Just as his contemporaries did not understand Jesus, so we fail to comprehend the “Slain Lamb” and how he shepherds the nations from his Throne.

In the vision of the “Rider on a White Horse,” for example, the figure’s robe is “sprinkled with blood” BEFORE he engages in “combat” with the “Beast” and the “False Prophet.” Who shed this blood, and how did it get on his robe? His only weapon was the “sword” that “proceeded out of his mouth,” the “Word of God.” Rather than a bloodstained blade, on his thigh was written, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Globe Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash
[Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash]

Jesus is the “
Word of God” sent to “judge and make war IN RIGHTEOUSNESS,” NOT through rage and violence. The members of his “army” were “clothed with fine linen, white and pure” with no weapon in sight. With his “sword,” he was “SHEPHERDING the nations.”

This “war” appeared, at first, to destroy the “nations” and the “Kings of the Earth,” but both groups reappeared in the vision of New Jerusalem where the “nations” walked in the Lamb’s light, and the “Kings of the Earth brought their glory into” the city.

Rather than the aftermath of a great slaughter, the life-giving river flowed from the Throne. It was bordered on either side by the “Tree of Life,” and “its leaves were for the healing of the nations” - (Revelation 21:24-26, 22:1-4).

Jesus is the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth” who redeemed the saints and made them a “Kingdom of Priests.” This statement uses past tense verbs to describe things achieved by his Death and Resurrection. Already, the “saints” reign with him as “priests,” not conquerors. They mediate his light, and they “overcame” and reign in the same manner as he did - through self-sacrificial service and perseverance in their testimony - (Revelation 1:4-6, 3:21, 12:11).

If Jesus is the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth,” what kind of king would he be if he allowed Satan to deceive and conquer the “nations”? After all, is he not the Messiah who through his sacrificial death overcame and therefore now “shepherds the nations”? What kind of shepherd would allow a predatory beast to slaughter his flock? - (Revelation 12:5, 19:15).

The term “nation” is fluid in its application in Revelation. It is used negatively and positively. For example, the “Beast from the Sea” was granted authority over men from every “nation, people, tongue, and tribe.” However, more often, it is the “Lamb” who purchases “men from every nation, people, tribe and tongue.” He is the Shepherd-King who reigns lovingly over his people - (Revelation 5:6-10, 7:9-17, 13:7-10).

The “nations” may be victimized, at times, by the “Dragon.” “Babylon” was condemned because “she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” She, “by her sorceries, deceived all the nations.” Nevertheless, how could Jesus “overcome” and “shepherd the nations” if he allowed the Devil to keep his ill-gotten gains? - (Revelation 14:8, 18:3, 18:23, 20:3-8).

In the end, the “nations” and their “kings” are seen in “New Jerusalem,” where they give honor and glory to the “Lamb” and the One who “sits on the Throne.” This happy result was predicted and fulfilled in the Book:

  • Who shall in any way not be put in fear, O Lord, and glorify your name, alone, full of lovingkindness; because all the nations will come and do homage before you because your righteous deeds were made manifest?” - (Revelation 15:4).
  • The nations of them which are saved will walk in the light of it, and the Kings of the Earth do bring their glory and honor into it…And they will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it” - (Revelation 21:24-22:4).

This is not to say the “Lamb” has no human enemies. There are men whose “names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life,” unrepentant sinners who will find themselves cast into the “Lake of Fire.” This impenitent group is identified as the “Inhabitants of the Earth.”

ENEMIES OF THE LAMB


The “Lamb” has four “cosmic” enemies who oppose him at every turn - the “Dragon,” the “Beast from the Sea,” the “False Prophet,” and “the Great Whore, Babylon.” Human beings that give allegiance to the “Dragon” have their names excluded from the “Book of Life.” They will face the “Hour of Trial, which is going to come…to try the Inhabitants of the Earth.”

The martyrs that John saw “underneath the altar” pleaded with God to avenge their blood on the “Inhabitants of the Earth,” the same group that rejoiced over the deaths of the “Two Witnesses.” This group was composed of the impious men who submitted to the “Beast,” paid homage to its “image,” and embraced its “Number.” Despite every plague and call to repent, they refused to “repent of their idolatries.” Their condemnation before the “Great White Throne of Judgment” will be their own doing- (Revelation 3:10, 6:9-11, 8:7-13).

This group does not represent all humanity, but only those men who consciously oppose the “Lamb” and consistently reject the redemption offered by him. The “Inhabitants of the Earth” are never presented in a positive light, and none of them are found in “New Jerusalem” or otherwise heard from again - (Revelation 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10).

The “Holy City” will descend to the Earth, not to become the home of a tiny “remnant” of believers who make it by the “skin of their teeth.” It will be inhabited by a multitude of victorious men and women from “every nation and tribe and people and tongue” who will stand in worship before the “Throne and the Lamb,” a multitude so vast “no one could number them” - (Revelation 7:9-17).

Finally, the “Lamb” does not redeem the “nations” by military conquest, but through the perseverance, priestly service, and Testimony of his “saints.” They overcome the Devil by “the blood of the Lamb, the Word of their Testimony, and because they loved not their lives even unto death,” just as Jesus did when he gave his life to redeem the nations.



RELATED POSTS:
  • Salvation for the Nations - (The Good News announced by Jesus of Nazareth offers salvation and life to men and women of every nation and people)
  • The End - (The New Testament moves inescapably from the life and death of Jesus to the last hour when God judges the wicked and vindicates the righteous)
  • King of Kings - (The Messiah shepherds the nations by the word that proceeds out of his mouth in preparation for the final battle - Revelation 19:11-16)

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